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RESPA’s missed opportunity

Essay: Changes may still leave consumers 'clueless'

Editor's note: This guest essay, submitted for a "Settling the score on settlement services" essay competition, explores whether pending changes to the U.S. Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act will actually benefit consumers. By ANTHONY FARWELL "The core problem (with the closing process) is that too many Americans sign a mountain of documents they don't understand and pay thousands for services that they've probably never heard of," said Brian Montgomery in 2001, when he was the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's assistant secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner. He was commenting on an Urban Institute study that found significant disparities in closing costs even among borrowers with identical credit scores, loan terms and mortgages: "This report proves that the more informed you are, the less you pay. Our common goal should be to increase competition and transparency, and to help take the mystery out of buying a ...